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Tip of the Fear: These Three Things Should Keep Anti-Pipeline Activists Awake at Night

15 Jan

This article originally posted for Stop C-51: Toronto at

Syndicated with permission.


Hopefully you read my primer earlier this week about actions being taken by anti-pipeline activists here in Canada and potential risks under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015. I’m opining on this subject because through my own activism with groups like STOPC51TO, PipeLeaks, and Greenpeace I’ve become a passable expert on two things: pipeline politics and fighting the police state. I actually joined the C-51 campaign last February precisely because I was concerned about ways in which the legislation could be applied to the anti-pipeline advocacy for projects like Enbridge’s Line 9 and TransCanada’s Energy East. For anti-pipeline activists, we’re operating on the cutting edge or “the tip of the fear”, so I’ll try to break down what it is that we need to be concerned about.

Relevant portions of the Act:

“activity that undermines the security of Canada” means any activity, including any of the following activities, if it undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada:


(c) espionage, sabotage or covert foreign-influenced activities;


(f) interference with critical infrastructure;

Immediate Risks to Pipeline Activists under Bill C-51

These risks are particularly present at this time for participants in land defence initiatives and the actions of Line 9 opponents opposing Enbridge’s pipelines in Ontario.


1. Information Sharing

There is now essentially blanket access with an incredibly low threshold of proof required for 17 different agencies to pull information from government databases including the tax history, medical records, police-interactions, vehicle registration information, travel history, union membership, education records etc. of suspects in security cases.

This means that a huge amount of metadata that would normally be protected under the privacy act can be aggregated and combed through by state security agencies in a manner which can only be described as invasive. The low evidentiary threshold required to access this data means that an individual can be targeted even just because they fall under suspicion of opposing a pipeline (this could theoretically include posting on social media or writing blog articles like this one.)


2. Preventative Detention

Activists involved in plans which directly target or advocate for the targeting of infrastructure are subject to an increased likelihood of preventative detention. While the language on C-51 in the media has mostly revolved around terrorism, it is important to note that the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 does not sufficiently discriminate between activism and terrorism in its definition of “threats to the security of Canada” and the evidentiary threshold for proving such threats has been significantly lowered.

Opposing or shutting down a pipeline is treated the same under this definition as planning a Mumbai/Paris style infantry raid with a jihadist cell. If you’re an activist who is suspected of planning to carry out an action which might be subject to the above definition, you’re in danger of being preventatively arrested using the same laws that would be used to target Daesh affiliates in Canada or Canadians seeking to travel to join terror groups.


3. “Disruption” Policing

If you or your associates have been identified as being suspects in interference with “critical infrastructure”, it is now entirely plausible for police or state security to engage in disruption policing. Disruption is a broad-brush term for proactive interference with perceived “criminal” operations where those actions do not explicitly lead toward an arrest under the Canadian Criminal Code. Here’s an example of a disruption operation from a Climate Camp in Kent, England.

Under C-51 this can mean taking down sympathetic websites or social media accounts, (justified as removal of terrorist propaganda) infiltrating groups, (intelligence led policing) blocking or interfering with communications or physical access, (disruption) inciting people to commit crimes, planting evidence, discrediting movement leaders or pretty much any practice which serves to prevent the execution of a plan to threaten the security of Canada and which does not kill the target or violate their sexual integrity.


No Crystal Balls: What happens next?

I don’t own a crystal ball, so I can’t tell you what comes next, but here are some suggestions based in credible scenarios:

Emergent anti-pipeline actions present a “networked threat”. In coordination with Enbridge, state Security will use portions of C-51 to engage in a similarly networked response. This approach might look like a major investigative effort involving provincial and municipal police in multi-agency coordination with federal intelligence agencies. It might mean asking American, Australian or British “Five Eyes” (FVEY) partners to spy on activists in situations where CSIS, RCMP or the CSE have investigative blind-spots.

A popular and (unfortunately, overused) acronym in Canadian security circles is the “Integrated National Security Enforcement Team” or INSET. Using new powers under C-51, such a team could engage in identifying and proactively undermining the operations of perceived threat actors. Through interagency and intergovernmental information and intelligence sharing agreements the INSET team also turns a frontline municipal police officer in Canada into a de-facto extension of American, British, Australian (etc.) security apparatuses. INSET and FVEY are huge threats to both liberty and sovereignty.

INSET teams patrolled the Vancouver Olympics and 2013 Anti-Fracking protests in Rexton, New Brunswick. The involvement of First Nations in opposition to infrastructure (as with the Rexton standoff or the Unis’tot’en land defence camp near Houston, BC) looks more like Low Intensity Conflict than traditional activism when contrasted to the militaristic approach taken by state security. These legitimate actions by the original inhabitants of this land are not subject to anything even close to resembling a proportional response from the state.

Sabotage actions against infrastructure and land defence initiatives result directly from the failure of the state to obtain consent of First Nations or other communities. These actions and many others are clearly at risk of suppression or disruption legalized by new powers under the Act. This concern about the impact the language of the Act might have on First Nations campaigners was expressed by Amnesty International as early as March 2015.

It is already public knowledge that CSIS has spied on pipeline opponents in BC, while leaked RCMP documents identify ‘anti-petroleum extremists’ as a growing threat to the security of Canada. Both of these incidents occurred before Bill C-51 was even tabled in the house and well before the anti-pipeline battle had escalated to physical interference with infrastructure. If you thought that state security was interested in the anti-pipeline movement before these actions, you haven’t seen anything yet.


Not Doctors, Not Lawyers:

Please bear in mind that at STOPC51TO we’re experts on the Anti Terrorism Act, 2015 but we’re definitely not legal experts. None of what we tell you or post on our website should be taken to construe legal advice. The best advice that we do have for you: in any uncertainty around legal matters, you should direct your query to a qualified legal expert.




Image used in this article from here made available under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0


Sabotaging Pipelines is Reckless and Dangerous, but Not For Reasons You Might Expect

11 Jan

This article originally posted for Stop C-51: Toronto at

Syndicated with permission.

There’s an old adage: “Mess with a bull and you’ll get the horns.” I’ll expand that rustic logic with a further analogy: “Mess with a Canadian fossil fuel company and you’ll get the police state.”  December 7th, 2015 is a significant day in Canadian history. It may never make it into textbooks and it’s unlikely that the story of what happened will be echoed in the media anytime soon. That day marked the opening of a major new frontline in the struggle against corporations engaged in the destruction of the planet. It may also have marked the first significant material challenge to Canada’s new anti-terrorism legislation, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 (Formerly Bill C-51) since it became law this summer.

On December 3rd, after years of legal and political battles, Enbridge Inc. began moving crude oil through its controversial Line 9B pipeline system. Line 9B is a 40 year old pipeline that runs 640km from North Westover, ON to Montreal, QC. In the early hours of December 7th, three self-styled “anarchists” traveled to an Enbridge pipeline valve site on the Quebec/Ontario border near the community of Sainte-Justine-de- Newton.

Valves are surface infrastructure which control or moderate flow of oil in a pipeline. The valve in question was a manual type valve. The activists who attended the site proceeded to operate the valve and effectively shut the pipeline down. They then locked themselves to the valve wheel in order to prevent it from being easily reopened. The unplanned operation of the valve forced Enbridge to stop the flow of product in the pipeline, which remained closed for hours as activists were removed from the site. This shutdown presumably cost the company millions of dollars.

(Thanks to SubMedia.TV for the awesome Video!)


Why was this reckless and dangerous?

December 7th marked a radical departure from the previous phases of the fight against Enbridge’s controversial pipeline. The action effectively tied up the flow of crude oil to the east coast for 10 hours. By the activists’ own account published on Earth First Journal’s online platform the action was intended as a direct challenge to C-51, which became law in Canada in July 2015.

“This whole action was a test of Canada`s new anti-terrorism law C-51” –unnamed Quebec activist.

Over the last month there have been two further actions inspired by what I will call the “New Model Action”. The second action on December 21st occurred in Sarnia, ON. It followed the design of the first, and was staged by First Nations activists from Aamjiwnaang and their allies. In this second case, activists were slapped with draconian criminal charges including Mischief over $5000 and Mischief endangering life.

A third action on January 4th, 2016 was near Cambridge, ON and targeted Enbridge’s Line 7 that connects Sarnia to Hamilton, ON. In this case activists used a ‘block, lock and walk’ methodology. They shut down the valve, locked the wheel in place to slow Enbridge’s contractors down and left the site without any direct contact with the company or the police. The replicable and scalable idea of direct interference with fossil fuel infrastructure is obviously evolving.

That’s right, these awesome, heroic individuals are taking it upon themselves to ratchet up the rhetoric to meaningful action! It’s reckless and dangerous because nobody knows what the reaction will be when it comes to dealing with the repressive police state that C51 created. In an article later this week I’ll try to give some clues as to what we might be expecting. Until we see how the state reacts, this is all just emergent experimentation: messing with a bull. These actions are highly effective and definitely necessary, but as someone who works between both issue-spaces my honest advice: brace yourselves, the police state is coming.

From my perspective at the nexus of this issue, evolving sabotage actions are important because they challenge the hard-power of industry and state security. I believe in the value of these actions. Admittedly, I support them. STOPC51TO has also conferred its endorsement to the activists who were willing to test the law. We additionally believe it is important to support activists from First Nations communities like Aamjiwnaang or the Chippewas of the Thames as they express very legitimate concerns about infrastructure built and operated in violation of treaties and without either dutiful consultation or free, prior and informed consent.

More to come:

There’s a lot more which I can say and will say in the coming weeks and months as this issue unfolds. I’m looking forward to providing a more detailed analysis of the overlap between environmental activism and the police state as actions continue. Keep checking back to this space for new content and analysis on this or other issues. I’ll make every effort to keep you up to date at the cutting edge of the interplay between state security and environmentalism.



As Internal Docs Show Major Overreach, Why Is FBI Spying on Opponents of Keystone XL Pipeline?

8 Nov

MAY 13, 2015 –

A new report confirms for the first time that the FBIspied on activists in Texas who tried to stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Documents from the FBI reveal it failed to get approval before it cultivated informants and opened its investigation, which was run from its Houston field office. The files document “substantial non-compliance” with Department of Justice rules. The Tar Sands Blockade mentioned in that report was one of the main groups targeted by the FBI. Agents in Houston office also told TransCanada they would share “pertinent intelligence regarding any threats” to the company in advance of protests. We are joined by Adam Federman, contributing editor to Earth Island Journal and co-author of the new investigation published by The Guardian, “Revealed: FBI violated its own rules while spying on Keystone XL opponents.” In February, he also revealed how the FBI has recently pursued environmental activists in Texas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington and Idaho for “little more than taking photographs of oil and gas industry installations.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: A new report confirms for the first time that the FBI spied on activists in Texas who tried to stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The report is based on FBI documents obtained by The Guardian and the Earth Island Journal. The documents also reveal that the FBI failed to get approval before it cultivated informants and opened its investigation, which was run from its Houston field office. The files document, quote, “substantial non-compliance” with Department of Justice rules. Much of the FBI’s surveillance took place between November of 2012 and June 2014.

AMY GOODMAN: The Tar Sands Blockade mentioned in the report was one of the main groups targeted by the FBI. Agents in Houston also told TransCanada they would share, quote, “pertinent intelligence regarding any threats” to the company in advance of protests.

Republished from

Keystone XL pipeline rejection sends a chill over Canada’s energy industry

8 Nov

CALGARY — The Globe and Mail-Nov.6.2015

The rejection of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline project puts new pressure on Canada’s energy industry to figure out how to ship growing oil sands production from the landlocked west to global markets.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s categorical “no” to the 830,000-barrel-a-day project will not immediately shut down new oil sands projects but could have a cooling effect on growth in the industry, already stung by more than a year of sharply lower oil prices.

Hal Kvisle – the man who conceived the Keystone XL pipeline when he was TransCanada’s chief executive officer – called Friday “a sad day.”

“This is very difficult for the Canadian oil and gas industry,” Mr. Kvisle, who headed TransCanada from 2001 to 2010, said in an interview.

“And access to market is the single biggest problem we face. In many ways, it is even bigger than $45 oil. Forty-five-dollar oil will come and go as global supply and demand sorts itself out. But if Western Canada can’t get access to markets, and we persist with things like dangerous rail transportation, it is just bad.”

Even before the White House made its announcement Friday, there had been fallout because of limited transport capacity for future oil sands production. Last month, Royal Dutch Shell PLC halted construction on its massive steam-driven project, Carmon Creek, blaming both the collapse in oil prices and the lack of pipeline capacity.

At a time when the energy sector is rife with job losses, current TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said the Keystone XL project would have put 2,200 Canadians to work almost overnight. Following the rejection of the project, TransCanada said it would review its options, which include filing a new application for a presidential permit for a cross-border pipeline.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the Keystone XL decision emphasizes why Canada needs to push hard for domestic pipelines – particularly those likely to succeed. She spoke directly to TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project, which would bring crude oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada, and Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from just east of Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C.

She pressed the need for getting oil to tidewater with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday morning.

“We need to really focus and have some very careful discussions about how we can work collaboratively to ensure that we get energy infrastructure and pipelines to tidewater. Bottom line,” she said.

Gaétan Caron, the former head of Canada’s National Energy Board and an executive fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, characterized the U.S. decision Friday as “a low point in North American energy security.”

Mr. Caron said Keystone XL is one of four key pipeline projects to get Canadian oil to refineries and global markets where the crude fetches a higher price than it does in land-locked North America. The other key projects, he said, are Energy East, the Trans Mountain expansion and Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway project to the B.C. Pacific Coast.

“If you stopped all four, then what you’re left with is the upgrade of existing systems and – heaven forbid – a significant increase again in the movement of oil by rail. Nobody yet has found a way to stop the movement of oil by rail,” Mr. Caron said.

While oil prices were high, rail was an increasingly used as a fallback method for shipping crude. However, oil prices below $50 (U.S.) a barrel has made rail a less economical means of transportation.

At Cenovus Energy Inc., spokesman Reg Curren said: “We haven’t put all of our eggs in one basket when it comes to transporting our oil. We’re building a portfolio of market options for our production.”

The oil sands producer will get its product to market by using shipping capacity on the existing Trans Mountain system and Enbridge’s Flanagan South pipeline in the U.S., as well as its 70,000-barrel-a-day crude oil transloading terminal at Bruderheim, northeast of Edmonton. Still, Cenovus is counting on more pipeline capacity coming on line.

“We have made commitments to both Energy East and Trans Mountain,” Mr. Curren said.

Although downtown Calgary has for months expected a rejection of the project, Friday’s news from the White House was still a major blow.

“Clearly, we’re disappointed in today’s decision,” said Steve Williams, CEO of Suncor Energy Inc., one of Canada’s largest oil companies.

“Keystone XL is important infrastructure not only for producers in the U.S. Bakken and Canada as it would provide expanded connectivity to the Gulf Coast, but also for U.S. refiners as it would provide security of supply from a long-time energy provider and trading partner.”

Republished from The Globe and Mail:

Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline

8 Nov


President says transporting crude oil from Canada won’t help the economy, lower gas prices, or increase the United States’ energy security

In a huge win for environmentalists, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline proposal today.

Had transport company TransCanada’s proposal been approved, the pipeline would have transected six states, carrying crude oil 1,700 miles from Canada’s Alberta tar stands to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

President Obama at his deskOfficial White House Photo by Pete SouzaThe President said that the pipeline was neither be a silver bullet for the economy, nor the express lane to climate disaster. 

In a White House press briefing this morning, Obama said that the pipeline “would not serve the national interest of the United States.” The President cited three main reasons for rejecting the project — it wasn’t going to help the economy in any meaningful way, it wouldn’t lower gas prices for Americans, and it wouldn’t increase the country’s energy security.

“Now, for years, the Keystone Pipeline has occupied what I, frankly, consider an overinflated role in our political discourse,” he said. “It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter. And all of this obscured the fact that this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.”

Echoing what many pipeline opponents have been saying, and acknowledging the impact the project would have had on climate change, he added: “Ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.”

The announcement was major victory for environmental advocates, who had been campaigning against the project for years based on its climate impact as well as the precedent it would set for American energy policy.

“This is a big win,” May Boeve, executive director of, said in a statement. “President Obama’s decision to reject Keystone XL because of its impact on the climate is nothing short of historic — and sets an important precedent that should send shockwaves through the fossil fuel industry.” Boeve said Obama’s decision

affirmed “the power of social movements” to change politics. “We’re looking to build on this victory, and show that if it’s wrong to build Keystone XL because of its impact on our climate, it’s wrong to build any new fossil fuel infrastructure, period,” she said

The announcement comes of the heels of TransCanada’s request earlier this week that the State Department delay review of its US permit application for the pipeline. Many environmentalists saw this request, which the State Department denied, as an attempt to push the review to after the November 2016 election, in the hopes that the political climate might then be more favorable.

The decision to reject the pipeline comes as world leaders prepare to gather in Paris later this month for international climate negotiations.

Republished from the Earth Island Journal:

Oil cleanup continues after pipeline spill south of Regina

21 Jan


Enbridge Inc. says it has restarted the Alberta Clipper pipeline after it was shut down briefly due to an oil spill in southern Saskatchewan.

The leak happened at the Rowatt pumping station just south of Regina on Saturday just before 11 a.m. CST. 

It’s estimated that about 125 barrels were released. That’s enough to fill a small tank truck.

Normally, about 449, 000 barrels per day flows through the pipeline. 

The company said most of the crude oil was contained to the grounds of the Rowatt station, but high winds sprayed some of the oil onto a nearby farm field. 

Provincial officials including emergency response crews were notified, Enbridge said. 

“There is no impact to the public, wildlife or waterways,” the company said in a statement released Saturday. 

The cause of the spill has not yet been determined, and is under investigation. 

The National Energy Board is also responding to the spill. An emergency response team is at the site to monitor and assess the company’s immediate response.

Republished from

Train hauling crude oil derails on Philadelphia bridge

21 Jan

by Dave Warner – Jan.20.2014

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – A freight train carrying crude oil derailed on Monday on a railroad bridge in Philadelphia, forcing the closing of the busy Schuylkill Expressway, authorities said.

Nothing leaked and there were no injuries in the derailment near the Schuylkill River, which occurred about 1 a.m. EST (0600 GMT), the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement. CSX Railroad said it would take one to two days for workers to remove the oil and sand cargo and the derailed cars.

The accident was the latest in a series of crashes or derailments of trains carrying crude oil in the United States and Canada that has raised safety concerns.

The Schuylkill Expressway was closed for nearly an hour after the derailment and again at about noon, according to a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Delays occurred as well as motorists slowed to look at a tanker car and a freight car visibly leaning sideways on the railway bridge.

CSX Corp released a statement saying the 101-car freight train was headed to Philadelphia from Chicago, and that seven cars derailed on the bridge.

Six of the derailed cars carried crude oil, CSX was quoted as saying. The cause of the derailment was unknown, and no injuries were reported.

The cars that derailed were at the back of the train, CSX said.

“The investigation continues into the cause of the derailment,” it said.

The Philadelphia crash extends a string of accidents involving trains hauling crude oil.

Last July, a runaway oil train derailed and exploded in the center of the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people.

In early November, an oil train derailed in rural Alabama and erupted into flames that took several days to extinguish.

On December 30, an oil train collided with a derailed car from a grain train outside the small town of Casselton, North Dakota. The fiery collision spilled more 400,000 gallons of crude and forced the evacuation of 1,400 people from their homes.

(Reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Edith Honan and David Gregorio)

Republished from Reuters:–finance.html